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Waikato Enforcement Deemed "Conservative"

An independent review panel headed up by Wellington lawyer Tom Gilbert has labelled WRC enforcement action on environment (read dairying!) to be "conservative. This was reported on 29 October in Stuff This review was brought about about by concerns over the eight prosecutions, 206 warnings, 123 infringement notices, and 64 abatement notices.  Fines totaled $516,749 since June 2014.   

Naturally, well known dairy farmer WRC member Stu Husband, and incidentally fellow dairy farmer Peter Buckley went out of their way to hobble the result of the inquiry by moving to set up a 'panel' to oversee the process - after their big win on helicopter inspections last year, that should just about put the kibosh on future enforcement, particularly as our 'democratic' Council agreed to Stu Husband's request that three councillors be included on the 'oversighting' panel - all dairy farmers no doubt.

The panel includes representatives of Fonterra, Mighty River Power, Federated Farmers and NZTA. Add a few dairy farmers from WRC to the mix, and they may as well open the gate on the chicken coop - never mind the fox!

The dairy industry in general pays but 'lip service' to environmental concerns - they claim that they are the most concerned because it is their best interests. Unfortunately, as we all know, their concerns stretch only to their boundaries - what happens to the water beyond is the very last of their concerns. Further, the numbers who demonstrate this cavalier and selfish approach far exceed the numbers who are investing and working assiduously to achieve acceptable water standards.

The WRC represents the very worst of the results of the influence of these sectional interests - we reap what we sew.  On the national front, all we were able to glean from Nick Smith this morning on the resignation of the Fish & Game Council from the Naional Water Panel was that they are "rebelling rather than co-operating" - what a joke when they have clearly been totally frustrated by recalcitrant attitudes of the dominant industry and government representatives.





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Reader Comments (1)


From my discussions with a number of WRC staff I think you may be conflating the review that has been or the panel yet to be to develop enforcement policy…perhaps?

Regardless, the Independent review panel (which had no Councillors involved) was very complementary about the rigor of investigation and enforcement methods by WRC, to the point that it was considered best practice amongst LG in New Zealand. These participants came from mainly a corporate background where governance in it's truest sense was recognized as a fundamental principle, rather than an opportunity to favour sector interests who funded your election campaign or who have been most vociferous in their complaints.

This is despite the best efforts of Vercoe, Buckley, Stark and Husband who are desperate to find squeaky wheels within the community to gain a semblance of relevance apart from "Rates Control". Yes the helicopter monitoring has gone but farm inspections are still occurring, albeit via the means that occurred prior to helicopter monitoring. i.e. cars!

You are right though about the rural rump that resides on this Council in so far as they represent a wilful ignorance of both the law, ethics and governance roles...if they could get away with it. The findings of the Enforcement Review did not fit the narrative that Buckley, Husband and Stark wanted so they latched onto the Enforcement Policy Panel concept to try and claw back their losses. Not a big deal as unlike Leach/TCDC they have far less ability to bully enforcement staff who know their onions wrt to what is ultra vires and what is appropriate.

Husband is the most guileless example of this as he often expresses a stream of consciousness which is not wholly coherent but generally is a desire to not follow any sort of rules or process and that offenders are not to be treated like criminals or some such gibberish, especially if they are Cockies. Often this is followed by a hastily garbled amendment to whatever motion he thought he was trying to put. He is an embarrassment to elected representatives as a whole.

Vercoe on the other hand is far too canny to really say what he wants apart from when the subject is travel allowances.

Not too keen to follow the rules either!

Stark is the equivalent of TCDC's Orange Roughy but without Goudies National Party connections.

Buckley is like a spurned spouse who is still sour at being dumped as Chair and between him and Vercoe are actively undermining Southgate. She unfortunately, despite having having many virtues was a compromise Chair between the ex Mayors and Rates Control so does not have secure base from which to assert control over proceedings

Staff have been very patient with a CEO that appears far too willing to entertain the childish whims of these malcontents. The study which highlighted the costs to this organisation of the various Councillor led reviews in terms of contacted services and staff time of -$90,000 will be sufficient embarrassment to deter further meddling by these bucolic amateurs, one would think.

Hopefully Kneebone, Livingston, Simcock, Livingston and Southgate and other like minded people will put themselves forward for the next regional elections, otherwise the lunatics will be running the asylum.

November 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

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